The Chicago Syndicate: Frank DeCicco
Showing posts with label Frank DeCicco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frank DeCicco. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2019

Anthony Comello, Suspect in Murder of Mafia Boss Frank Cali, Looking at Death Penalty from the Mob

It’s Mob Justice 101, and there are no appeals: The unsanctioned killing of a Mafia boss carries the death penalty.

The longstanding organized crime maxim is bad news for the life expectancy of Anthony Comello, the suspect jailed in the Staten Island shooting death of Gambino family head Frank (Frankie Boy) Cali.

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“He must know his life is worth nothing,” said one-time Bonanno family associate Joe Barone. “He doesn’t have a chance in hell. It’s a matter of time. Even if the wiseguys don’t get him, he’ll get whacked by somebody looking to make a name.”

Comello, 24, remains in protective custody in a Jersey Shore jail, held without bail in the March 13 slaying of Cali outside his Staten Island home. Cali was shot 10 times in what initially appeared to be the first hit of a sitting New York mob boss since the execution of his long-ago Gambino predecessor Paul Castellano.

Veteran mob chronicler Selwyn Raab, author of the seminal Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires,” said retribution might not occur instantly. But Comello’s best-case scenario is a life spent looking over his shoulder. “Very simply, the old rules in the Mafia are you don’t let somebody get away with something like this," said Raab. “As long as the Mafia exists, he’s in danger. And it’s not just the Gambinos — anybody from any of the other families could go after him. If they get an opportunity to knock him off, they will."

Even the Cali family’s initial refusal to share security video with the NYPD was consistent with the mob’s approach to crime family business.

“That’s a big message: We’ll take care of this ourselves,” said Barone, who became an FBI informant.

The Castellano murder, orchestrated by his Gambino family successor John Gotti in December 1985, led to a trio of retaliatory killings sanctioned by Genovese family boss Vincent (The Chin) Gigante.

The Greenwich Village-based Gigante was outraged that Gotti ordered the hit without his approval. The murders were spread across five years and meant to culminate with the killing of Gotti, who instead died behind bars after his underlings were picked off.


  • Victim No. 1, dispatched by a Brooklyn car bomb, was Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco in April 1987.
  • Castellano shooter Eddie Lino became Victim No. 2 after a November 1990 traffic stop on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for him, the officers involved were the infamous “Mafia Cops” — who killed the mob gunman for a $75,000 fee.
  • And finally, Victim No. 3: Bobby Borriello, the driver and bodyguard for the Dapper Don, murdered April 13, 1991, in the driveway of his Brooklyn home.


The mob doesn’t always get its man. Notorious informants like Gotti’s right-hand man Sammy (The Bull) Gravano and Henry Hill of “Goodfellas” fame bolted from the Witness Protection Program and survived for decades.



Gravano, whose testimony convicted Gotti and 36 other gangsters, walked out of an Arizona prison one year ago after serving nearly 20 years for overseeing an ecstasy ring. Hill died of natural causes in June 2012 at the age of 69, although not all are as fortunate.

Lucchese family associate Bruno Facciola was executed in August 1990, with a dead canary stuffed in his mouth as a sign that he was an informer — and a warning to other mobsters.

Thanks to Larry McShane.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Can Mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso Answer a Mystery Around the French Connection Case?

In prison, far from the Brooklyn haunts where his name was scrawled in blood, Anthony Casso stews. He stews over old vendettas. He stews over betrayals of the flesh — heart problems and prostate cancer.

Mr. Casso has served 15 years at a “supermax” prison in Colorado. And Mr. Casso, the once fearsome underboss of the Lucchese family who is now serving multiple life sentences amounting to 455 years for murder, stews over his secrets: unsolved crimes that, he says in an outpouring of letters, he is eager to help close if only he could show the authorities where the bodies are buried (especially if it entails a trip outside the gates).

“I would go out there in a heartbeat,” Mr. Casso said on Friday in a telephone call to a former detective seeking the mobster’s help in clearing his own name. But as much as he hopes for a taste of freedom, or a reduction of his sentence, prosecutors question what his information may be worth and what perils may lie in reopening contact with an antagonist some compare to the fictional monster Hannibal Lecter.

Dangling as a prize is the answer to one of New York’s most scandalous mysteries: how 400 pounds of heroin and cocaine, much of it seized in the so-called French Connection drug bust in 1962, were spirited out of the police property vault for resale back on the street. By the time the record theft was discovered in December 1972, the drugs — then valued at $73 million — had been replaced with flour and cornstarch.

Who committed the deed? There were four narcotics detectives,” Mr. Casso wrote the former detective, Pat Intrieri, in October, amplifying information he offered in his 2008 biography, Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss. “One worked inside the property clerk’s office.” One, he added, was later shot to death; Mr. Casso said he remembers where the gun was thrown. But Mr. Casso, 66, whose mob nickname was Gaspipe, says he is having trouble with exact locations. So, naturally, he would like to get out, if only for a day, to be helpful. Or at least win some leniency along the lines of a plea deal he says the government reneged on: six and a half years in prison.

“Of course he’d like to get out — he’s serving 55 million years,” said Michael F. Vecchione, chief of the rackets division in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Like other prosecutors, Mr. Vecchione has little stomach for Mr. Casso. But without any promises, he has arranged to visit Mr. Casso on Tuesday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., where he has been undergoing cancer treatment, although it would take corroboration far beyond the mobster’s word to make any case.

“I bet you when the state guys come, they don’t know half the things,” Mr. Casso said on Friday to Mr. Intrieri, who relayed his remarks to The New York Times.

There is little chance that Mr. Casso, now 15 years behind the stoutest walls America can contrive, will ever see his release — not after pleading guilty in 15 murders and being tied to some 22 others.

He has also been accused of plotting to kill a federal judge and prosecutors, and violating the terms of his agreement to turn informant as one of the highest-level mobsters ever to flip — becoming the only major Mafia defector to be thrown out of the federal witness protection program.

Mr. Casso has also waffled on whether he corrupted an F.B.I. agent and hired two New York City police detectives, Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, as mob assassins. The former detectives are to be sentenced on March 6 on racketeering charges.

If, moreover, he still wonders why the authorities are leery of his offers, Mr. Casso may have provided the answer to his biographer, Philip Carlo. In his 2008 book, “Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss,” Mr. Carlo, a longtime friend of the Casso family, outlined several of the mobster’s escape schemes, including the planned ambush of a van carrying him back from court after his capture in New Jersey in 1993.

“He’s where he should be,” said Gregory O’Connell, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who initially interviewed Mr. Casso with his late partner, Charles Rose, and called him “the most treacherous sociopath we ever dealt with.”

But a man can dream, and for Mr. Casso, that means being back once again in the Brooklyn sunshine, pinpointing old Mafia execution grounds and the watery grave of a murder weapon. Not rising at 5 a.m. every day to meticulously clean his cell in a federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colo., that also houses the likes of the Unabomber, Theodore J. Kaczynski; the Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols; and such fellow mobsters as Gregory Scarpa Jr. and Salvatore Gravano, known as Sammy the Bull.

“I think he got a raw deal,” said Joshua L. Dratel, the latest of Mr. Casso’s many lawyers. Mr. Dratel said Mr. Casso was “poor at playing the system” and threatened major cases by exposing Mr. Gravano and other government witnesses and federal agents as liars. Mr. Casso has long claimed that the records of his F.B.I. debriefings, never made public, would show that the government covered up his warnings of moles in its ranks and that to get out of their plea deal with him, prosecutors used other Mafia turncoats as witnesses instead.

Perhaps Mr. Casso’s staunchest pen pal is Mr. Intrieri, 79, a onetime decorated New York detective lieutenant who was convicted of tax evasion in 1976 in the aftermath of the French Connection drug thefts. Mr. Intrieri, who has drafted a memoir asserting his innocence, saw new information on the case in Mr. Carlo’s book and said he found Mr. Casso’s accounts of unsolved crimes credible.

“He wants to get out a little bit, I guess; he’s going stir-crazy,” Mr. Intrieri said, after getting more than a dozen phone calls from Mr. Casso in recent weeks. “But his goal is a sentence reduction.”

The drugs at the core of the mystery — popularized as “The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy” in a 1969 book by Robin Mooreand an Academy Award-winning film that followed two years later — were secreted in compartments in a 1960 Buick loaded aboard the liner United States sailing from Le Havre, France, to New York. The car and its 112 pounds of heroin were later claimed by a Lucchese family underling, Patsy Fuca, who, as it happened, was being tailed by a pair of dogged New York narcotics detectives, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso.

The drug bust in January 1962 was widely hailed as a record. But the heroics proved short-lived. In six thefts between March 1969 and January 1972, someone signing the register as Detective Joseph Nunziata, a member of the narcotics bureau’s widely corrupt special investigations unit, and using fictitious badge numbers, removed the French Connection drugs along with another 300 pounds of heroin and cocaine from the police property vault at 400 Broome Street (now a New York University dorm).

Handwriting analysis and a discovered fingerprint never established that Detective Nunziata actually signed the police register. But eight months before the thefts were discovered, Detective Nunziata, charged with corruption in an unrelated case, was found shot to death in his car. It was ruled a suicide.

Mr. Moore, the author, wrote that as far back as 1967, he and Detectives Nunziata, Egan and Grosso joked about stealing the French Connection heroin.

Many suspects emerged, including Vincent Papa, a major drug dealer; Frank King, a retired narcotics detective and private eye working for Mr. Papa; and Mr. Intrieri, who upon his retirement had joined Mr. King as a bodyguard for one of Mr. Papa’s sons — “the biggest mistake of my life,” Mr. Intrieri now says. (Mr. Papa’s lawyer was overheard on a wiretap asking Mr. King, “Do we have anything to worry about the handwriting analysis?”) After providing what he thought was confidential information on four corrupt narcotics detectives, Mr. Papa was stabbed to death in prison.

Also under scrutiny was Vincent Albano, another former narcotics detective, who had served under Mr. Intrieri and had survived a mysterious hail of bullets in 1969, only to be slain in 1985.

Thomas P. Puccio, then a Brooklyn federal prosecutor, focused on Mr. King and Mr. Intrieri, but failed to tie them to the drug thefts. Mr. Puccio charged them instead with tax evasion for unexplained income, winning convictions and five-year sentences for both, along with three years for tax evasion by Mr. Albano. But the case remained a puzzle, Mr. Puccio conceded in an interview. “We never really conclusively solved it,” he said.

Still indignant over his conviction more than 30 years later, Mr. Intrieri — who held 15 police citations for bravery and valor — saw in Mr. Carlo’s book that Mr. Casso had named Mr. Albano and a mob associate as two of the French Connection thieves. The book related how Mr. Albano had been shot to death in Brooklyn in 1985, and how Mr. Casso had supplied the gun and helped dump the body on Staten Island.

Mr. Carlo, in an interview, said Mr. Casso had told him Mr. Albano had conceived the drug heist and asked Mr. Casso how to carry it out.

Mr. Intrieri, in his own manuscript, “The French Connection: The Aftermath,” told of running into Mr. Albano several times over the years — including in 1980 while Mr. Albano was casing a Queens bank — and said that Mr. Albano had laughed at hearing that Mr. Intrieri was a suspect in the drug thefts.

By opening an exchange of letters with Mr. Casso — a correspondence that grew to include this reporter — Mr. Intrieri elicited other details, and other crimes.

Mr. Casso offered details of the 1986 car bombing aimed at John Gotti that killed his Gambino family underboss, Frank DeCicco; the killing of a Russian mob associate, Michael Markowitz, in 1989; and the apparently unreported killing of a Jewish drug importer near Mr. Albano’s office around 1980, among other crimes.

Officials at the Federal Medical Center in North Carolina did not respond to repeated requests to interview Mr. Casso by phone.

“I’ll be here awhile receiving treatments for prostate cancer,” Mr. Casso wrote Mr. Intrieri in December. “Just my luck.”

As for the gun that killed Mr. Albano, Mr. Casso supplied a hand-drawn map with imperfect punctuation showing, he said, where it had been thrown: “Its in Sheepshead Bay.”

He also sketched a site where, he said, another mob victim was buried, calling it: “Drawing for the Colombians remains.”

Mr. Intrieri said that his follow-up inquiries gave credence to Mr. Casso’s information and that it was worth giving the old mob boss a chance to hand prosecutors new evidence. “I sincerely believe that until he goes to the site, he won’t remember,” Mr. Intrieri said.

Thanks to Ralph Blumenthal

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mob War Breaking Out in New York?

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Gambino Crime Family, Genovese Crime Family, Paul Castellano, John Gotti, Rudolph "Cueball" Izzi, Robert DeCicco, Frank DeCicco, George DeCicco
Friends of mine: Sopranos Crime Family

A pair of mob shootings in three days, one of them reminiscent of a hit on last week's episode of "The Sopranos," prompted speculation of a nascent Mafia war in New York City.

Not likely, according to mob experts who say "The Life" - as mobsters refer to their criminal pursuits - rarely imitates art these days. In an era of dwindling Mafia initiates and multiplying federal informants, gangsters are more dangerous to each other by sitting on the witness stand than by "going to the mattresses" as in "The Godfather."

"Years ago, there were things worth killing for," said Howard Abadinsky, a St. John's University professor and author of several books on organized crime. "It wasn't like today. It sounds funny, but murder is a serious thing to get involved in these days from a wiseguy's point of view."

Recent history bears him out. The last real New York mob war, involving the Colombos, began in 1991 and claimed 13 victims, including a teen bagel shop worker killed in a case of mistaken identity.

The last hit on a mob boss occurred six years earlier, when "Big Paul" Castellano was murdered by John Gotti and a cadre of Gambino family underlings.

The Mafia's ruling Commission has been widely reported as having imposed a moratorium on murder within the ranks, with the heads of New York's five families acknowledging that internecine killings are bad for business.

"Murders were ruled off limits in the '90s, after the Colombo war," said veteran mob chronicler Jerry Capeci, author of "The Complete Idiots' Guide to the Mafia." "Murders were out to keep the heat off."

That wasn't enough to save Rudolph "Cueball" Izzi, a 74-year-old reputed Genovese family bookmaker and loan shark. Izzi was found dead Thursday on a bed in his Brooklyn apartment, a single gunshot wound in his head.

Two days earlier, a Gambino family associate with a lengthy mob lineage was wounded in a drive-by shooting just 1 1/2 miles from Izzi's home. Robert DeCicco, 56, was winged while sitting in his car outside a Brooklyn pharmacy in a neighborhood that serves as the mob's heartland.

That shooting echoed the penultimate episode of "The Sopranos," where killers blasted at consigliere Silvio Dante in a car outside the New Jersey strip club that fictional Tony Soprano's gang uses as a headquarters.

There was one major difference: the television shooters were more accurate. Silvio ended up in a coma; DeCicco walked out of a police station hours after the attempt on his life. "I'm all right," he said while walking down the precinct steps. "I feel very good."

FBI spokesman Jim Margolin acknowledged the twin shootings raised the question of whether a mob war was possible. "I'm not aware that it's one we've answered," he said.

Several theories were broached: Gambling debts were involved. Revenge was a motive. The killings were linked. Or perhaps someone with a grudge against Izzi used the DeCicco shooting as a smoke screen to take him out.

No arrests were made in either case.

The murder try on Robert DeCicco was familiar, if unfortunate, terrain for his family. His uncle, Frank DeCicco, had lured Castellano to his death outside Sparks Steak House in December 1985. Frank, who became the Gambino family underboss, was killed four months later by a retaliatory car bomb.

Robert's father, George, continued in the family business after Frank's death, becoming a constant presence on the Mafia scene.

Hours after his son was shot, George DeCicco told reporters outside his home that an explanation was beyond him.

"You got all these crazy people, these terrorists doing crazy things," he said. "I'm shocked just like anybody else."

Thanks to Larry McShane

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Gambino Mobster Survives Hit Attempt

The son of one of "Dapper Don" John Gotti's trusted capos narrowly escaped an old-fashioned mob hit when a bullet grazed his head in a drive-by shooting in Brooklyn's Mafia heartland, cops said.

Robert DeCicco, whom feds identified as a 56-year-old mob associate, also was shot three times in the arm during the botched rubout in his car at Bath and 17th avenues in Bath Beach at about 10:15 a.m., cops and witnesses said.

"They didn't do it right," said a local in the neighborhood, which has been run by the DeCiccos for generations, according to law-enforcement sources. "Whoever did this, they're in a lot of trouble now."

DeCicco - who was indicted in January along with his father, George "Big Georgie" DeCicco, 78, in the last major takedown of alleged Gambino mobsters - had just gotten into his 1998 gray Cadillac Seville after shopping.

The bungled assassination came just a day after another Gambino mobster busted with DeCicco and his dad in January was moved into protective custody because of threats against his life, The Post has learned.

Joseph Orlando, who brought down the DeCicco crew down when he tried to bribe an official, was moved into solitary confinement at the Manhattan Detention Center Monday, sources said. Details of the threat were unavailable. Orlando's attorney declined to comment, as did an FBI spokesman.

Witnesses said a man wearing a ski mask pulled up in a black Lincoln next to DeCicco and shot at him four times, shattering both the front passenger and driver's windows.

DeCicco managed to drag himself out of the car and stagger into a pharmacy to call for help, witnesses said.

At Lutheran Hospital, DeCicco kept mum about the identities of his would-be killers. "I don't want to talk to anyone," he reportedly told cops from his hospital bed.

Later, as he left the 62nd Precinct, he said, "I'm all right, I feel very good."

DeCicco, who had a bandaged arm and a scratch across his face, jumped into a black Lexus. The car was registered to Mark Fappiano, who is related to Frank Fappiano, the Mafia turncoat who testified in John "Junior" Gotti's recent federal trials.

The shooting occurred just blocks from Tomasso's Restaurant, where DeCicco's cousin Frank DeCicco was blown up by a car bomb meant for the elder John Gotti in 1986. A year earlier, Frank DeCicco had lured Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano to Sparks Steakhouse on the East Side in one of the city's most famous Mafia hits. Castellano's rubout paved the way for Gotti to take the No. 1 spot in the Gambino family.

Robert DeCicco's father, George, also rose up the ranks. Until January, he was known as the last-remaining Gotti capo not behind bars or dead.

George DeCicco was finally busted on a slew of extortion, racketeering, loan-sharking and money-laundering raps after a two-year probe in which a member of his crew taped hundreds of hours of recordings.

The younger DeCicco also was charged with loan-sharking.

"Big Georgie" DeCicco, who because of heart problems is under house arrest on Staten Island, gave a thumbs-up sign to reporters after learning his son had survived. "He's all right!" he said. "I was on oxygen last night," he told The Post. "The last thing I need to do is hear [he was shot]."

Investigators theorized the attempted hit could be personal. "If it was, whoever did this is going to be in trouble because he's a captain's son," a source said.

"If it's a mob-sanctioned hit, whoever did this is in trouble because he botched it."

Thanks to Murray Weiss, Partick Gallahue and Leela de Kretser

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Toni Marie Ricci Can't Resist Gambinos

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Frank "Frankie Fap" Fappiano, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Frank DeCicco, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Junior Gotti
Friends of mine: Toni Marie Ricci, Kurt Ricci

Toni Marie Ricci was blessed with good looks, but she can't catch a break with men.

Toni Marie RicciHer husband was arrested this week, along with her cousin, in a federal roundup of alleged Gambino crime family members and associates. And the rest of the guys in this doll's life aren't exactly prizes.

Her ex-husband is a former Gambino gangster who turned out be more canary than lovebird, her brother is a Mafia rat, and one of her cousins died in a rubout.

"The men in her life have brought her some unhappiness," said Jean Marie Graziano, the lawyer for her current husband, Kurt Ricci. "But they have also brought her good things," Graziano said, referring to Toni Marie's 19-year-son from her first marriage. "Even with all that's gone on with her life, she's stronger and better for it."

Toni Marie's ex is former Gambino crime family capo Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo, an infamous turncoat.

Her brother Frank (Frankie Fap) Fappiano was a Gambino soldier before he started singing for the feds. And one of her cousins was Frank DeCicco, underboss to the late John Gotti. DeCicco was blown up in his car in 1986.

Toni Marie has only been married to her current husband for 11 months, but she's already had to bail him out.

Kurt Ricci, a reputed associate of the Gambino crime family, was charged with bank fraud. The indictment also charges Ricci's second cousin, reputed capo George DeCicco, 77, with racketeering.

The brunette looker lit up arraignment court as she signed a $300,000 bond secured by the couple's house in Staten Island to spring her hubby. Graziano denied that Kurt Ricci is mobbed up, and she staunchly defended the reputation of his 41-year-old bride.

For her part, Toni Marie has been candid about some of the tumult in her personal life.

In an interview last year with New York magazine, she recalled what happened when she learned Mikey Scars was having a love child with his mistress. "He handed me the phone, and I said to her, 'Where do you come off having this child? I'm married to this guy for 17 years.'

"She didn't answer. I said, 'What's the matter? You're not woman enough to answer?' He took the phone and hung it up. So I took the phone and hit him over the head with it."

But when Toni Marie testified last year at former Gambino boss John A. (Junior) Gotti's retrial, she played a little more coy. Peppered with questions about all her family ties to organized crime, she demurred. "I'm just a housewife and a mother," she said.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Friday, August 25, 2006

Gotti Said To Break Mafia Vow During Meeting With Prosecutors

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Daniel Marino, John "Johnny G" Gammarano, Gambino Crime Family, Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Genovese Crime Family, Luchese Crime Family, Paul Castellano, Peter Gotti, Frank DeCicco, Bartholemew "Bobby" Borriello, Edward Lino
Friends of mine: Joseph Watts


Mob prince John "Junior" Gotti broke his Mafia vow of omerta last year and used a pre-trial sitdown with federal prosecutors as an opportunity to settle some old scores with two of his father's former top lieutenants, Gang Land has learned.

Gotti has acknowledged the January 2005 secret session with the feds, but has maintained it was merely an effort to convince the feds of his innocence concerning the charges in the racketeering indictment.

He said he indignantly stomped out once he realized that prosecutors were seeking his cooperation. In a June 27 interview with the Daily News, he insisted he would never tell on his former crime cohorts, underscoring his own attitude about informing by quoting his late father's extreme views on the subject. "I could have robbed a church but I wouldn't admit to it if I had a steeple sticking out of my" rear end, Gotti said the Dapper Don had told him.

However, several sources confirmed to Gang Land that, in a failed bid to persuade prosecutors to drop their case against him, Gotti spilled old secrets about two "made men" and a Gambino crime family associate — all underlings of the elder John Gotti.

Junior fingered capo Daniel Marino, soldier John "Johnny G" Gammarano, and longtime associate Joseph Watts for numerous crimes that took place before 1999, when Junior Gotti has insisted he walked away from the Mafia life, sources said.

Gotti also allegedly gave the feds information about a crooked Queens cop who enabled him to beat one case during the 1980s, and a corrupt politician who was part of a land-grab scheme during the same time frame, sources said. Both men are deceased.

Despite Gotti's claims of retirement and his ultimate decision not to cooperate, any informant activity by the mob scion would be viewed as an abomination within his former realm, and equate him with the defectors who have testified against him and his late father. "If it's true, he's a rat, just like Sammy and Scars," an underworld source said, referring to the two major Gambino family defectors, former underboss Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano and onetime capo Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo.

The disclosure about Gotti's discussions comes as his third trial stemming from the kidnap-shooting of Curtis Sliwa is under way in Manhattan Federal Court.The trial judge, Shira Scheindlin, has issued a gag order in the case and prosecutors and defense lawyers are prohibited from discussing it.

Gang Land's sources declined to discuss specifics that Junior gave the feds, but said he focused primarily on Marino, 65, a powerful family capo and longtime thorn in the side of the Dapper Don, and Watts, 64, once viewed as a possible FBI informer by the Junior Don and his cohorts. While informing about Marino, Gotti, almost as an afterthought, also related alleged criminal activity by Gammarano, 65, a soldier in Marino's crew, sources said.

Marino, who served six years behind bars for a murder conspiracy ordered by the elder Gotti, was released in 2000. Watts, who spent 10 years in prison for his involvement in the same plot and a separate tax case, was released from prison in May. Johnny G, who served three years for a labor racketeering scam in Brooklyn and a Joker Poker gambling machine scheme in New Orleans, has been back in action since 2002.

Gotti has had it out for Marino and Watts for years, a source said. "He's talked about killing them both," the source said. The Gotti faction has long believed that Marino was poised to take over the crime family in the early 1990s as part of a retaliation plot by the Genovese and Luchese families for the unsanctioned 1985 killing of Gambino boss Paul Castellano.

Even after Marino was incarcerated during the late 1990s, Junior, Mikey Scars, Peter Gotti, and other supporters of the then-jailed Dapper Don debated whether to kill Marino, according to FBI documents. The discussions revolved around suspicions that Marino may have had a role in the murders of Frank DeCicco, Bartholemew "Bobby" Borriello, and Edward Lino — all key allies of the elder Gotti — between 1986 and 1991.

In the early 1990s, according to testimony at Junior's second trial, Gotti had two gunmen waiting in the closet of a Brooklyn apartment ready to kill Marino and Johnny G and dispose of their remains in body bags after Junior suspected they had kept $400,000 in annual construction industry extortion payments that should have been forwarded to him. The plot was thwarted, probably intentionally, by Watts.

Watts, who would become the focus of rubout talk a few years later, had been instructed to bring Marino and Johnny G to a meeting that would end with their execution. But when Watts and the targeted mobsters arrived in a stretch limo along with another mobster and a driver, Junior aborted the plan, according to the testimony.

In 1994 and 1995, according to court documents, Junior discussed killing Watts when "rumors began to spread within the Gambino family that Watts might be cooperating" and Gotti feared that Watts and then-superstar witness Sammy Bull would be a "deadly combination" that would threaten the "survival of the Gottis and the Gambino family."

The nasty talk about Watts fizzled out after he pleaded guilty and went to prison. But Junior has long suspected that Watts, who referred to Junior as "Boss" whenever they met, had worn a wire against him, according to FBI documents. And, during his session with the feds, "Junior was quick to point a finger at him," a source said. Sources said Gotti did implicate himself, and a few longtime friends, in several crimes, but they took place too long ago to be used in an indictment.

Gotti denied any role in a 23-year-old murder, a crime for which there is no statute of limitations, sources said. He insisted that he did not kill Danny Silva, a 24-year-old Queens man who died from a knife wound during a wild melee in an Ozone Park bar when Junior was a rowdy and arrogant 19-year-old wannabe wiseguy. "He said he was there, but he said he had nothing to do with the stabbing," a source said.

As Gang Land reported in our first New York Sun column four years ago, a formerly reluctant witness has told authorities that he "personally saw Junior stab Danny Silva" and the police and FBI reopened the case with an eye toward charging Gotti with Silva's murder.

Thanks to Jerry Capeci of Gangland News

Tuesday, March 03, 1992

Sammy the Bull Testifes That John Gotti Ordered the Slaying of Gambino Crime Boss Paul Castellano

Reputed mob boss John Gotti ordered the slaying of Paul Castellano out of fear that he faced assassination himself, Gotti's onetime underboss said during his first day of testimony yesterday in a hushed and heavily guarded courtroom.

There were "quite a few reasons" why Gotti wanted the head of the Gambino crime family killed, Salvatore Gravano said in a low and gravelly voice. But, he testified, Gotti's chief motive was self-preservation.

Gravano described the 10 months during which, he, Gotti and others planned Castellano's execution. He said the final plan came shortly after the death of cancer-striken Aniello Dellacroce, the Gambino family's underboss and Gotti's mentor.

"Paul showed total disrespect and didn't go to the funeral," Gravano told the jury. "We were wondering if and when . . . Paul might make a move - if he might strike," Gravano testified. "We wondered if he might shoot John and Angelo" Ruggiero, a close Gotti associate. "Paul Castellano, after Neil [Dellacroce] died, said he was going to wreck John's crew," said Gravano. He said Castellano was angry that members of Gotti's crew had violated a family rule - enforceable by death - against drug dealing.

Gravano, the highest-level mob informant ever to testify against Gotti, was calm and composed as he took the stand under a deal to reduce his prison sentence to 20 years. Indicted along with Gotti and co-defendant Frank Locascio, he faced life in prison without parole if convicted at trial. Gravano occasionally glanced at Gotti, and once during the testimony pointed out Gotti and Locascio as being the boss and consigliere of the crime family.

Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gleeson, Gravano said others beside Gotti were dissatisfied with Castellano.

"At the time, there were a lot of conversations about Paul. Nobody was too happy with him . . . He was selling out the family for his own basic businesses," said Gravano, explaining that Castellano formed several business partnerships with leaders of the Genovese crime family.

Gravano said Gotti and his followers also were upset that Castellano had allowed another crime family to kill a Gambino crime captain in Connecticut. "You just don't let another family kill a captain in your family," Gravano testified. "That's against the rules."

Gravano said Gotti discussed two other possible plans for killing Castellano that were rejected. In one plan, Castellano was to have been shot at his home on Staten Island. But that plan was dropped because "there was a lot of FBI surveillance at his house," Gravano said.

Another rejected plan called for an old-time mobster to walk into a diner where Castellano and his driver, Thomas Bilotti, frequently went before meeting with Castellano's lawyer, James LaRossa. "The old man was known by Paul and would be able to walk in and shoot him," Gravano said.

Gravano, 46, said the final planning session for Castellano's murder came the night before Castellano and Bilotti were shot to death outside Sparks Steak House on East 46th Street on Dec. 16, 1985.

Frank DeCicco, a Castellano loyalist, had informed Gotti and Gravano that he would be meeting Castellano and Bilotti for dinner at Sparks on Dec. 16, Gravano testified. Also among those attending the dinner, said Gravano, would be Thomas Gambino, son of the late Carlo Gambino, for whom the Gambino family is named.

The night before, at a meeting Gotti arranged, Gotti, Gravano and Ruggiero sat down with eight other mob figures at Gravano's drywall construction firm in Brooklyn and outlined a plan to kill two men whose names were not revealed. "We didn't tell them who was going to be hit," Gravano said. "We just said he had to be done."

Gravano said it was decided that the shooters would be John Carneglia, Edward Lino, Salvatore Scala and Vinny Artuso, all members of the Gambino crime family.. The others would serve as backups who would be stationed at various locations.

The next afternoon, the participants - armed with guns and walkie-talkies - met Gotti and Gravano in a small park on the Lower East Side and were told the names of their targets for the first time. "We told them exactly who was going, and that it had to be done," Gravano testified.

The designated shooters were stationed in front of Sparks, Gravano said, and four backup shooters were posted around the block. He said the backups included Anthony Rampino, a convicted Gambino soldier, and Ruggiero.

"Me and John got in the car and went to the Third Avenue side of East 46th," Gravano testified. "I was a backup shooter. If they [Castellano and Bilotti] got away, we would be ready."

At that point in his testimony, U.S. District Court Judge I. Leo Glasser closed the session for the day and ordered Gravano's examination to continue today.

Gravano, known on the street as Sammy the Bull, spent much of his two hours on the witness stand discussing his crime career, which he said began shortly after he dropped out of school at the age of 16. From 1961 to 1964, "I worked on and off. I committed armed robberies, burglaries."

He served in the Army between 1964 and 1966. After his discharge, he said he returned to Brooklyn. "I went back to my life of crime," he said.

Gleeson asked him how many murders he was admitting."Nineteen," Gravano said.

Gravano said he was something of an expert killer. Asked by Gleeson if there was a common expression used by the Gambino family for murder, Gravano said without emotion: "To do a piece of work - to whack someone out."

He described his 1976 initiation into the Gambino crime family in the presence of Castellano. He said during the ceremony, his trigger finger was pricked with a pin, a drop of blood was placed on the picture of a saint and the picture was set afire.

He then repeated his oath of silence: "If I divulge any secrets of this organization my soul should burn like this saint."

Gravano testified that officials of the Luchese, Colombo and Bonanno crime families were notified of the plan to kill Castellano. "They were behind the killing," he said. New York's fifth crime organization, the Genovese family, was not consulted. "We didn't trust them because Paul Castellano was in partners with them," Gravano said.

Thanks to Pete Bowles

When You Get Serious About Tailgating


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